In a back-and-forth bout with the LSU Tigers (17-8, 6-6 SEC), the Commodores (12-13, 2-10 SEC) got their second SEC win Monday night by the score of 70-68 thanks to a hard-fought comeback.
It all started well for the ‘Dores. On their second possession, a dozen passes and multiple swings around the arc led to a a strong and-one finish. Unfortunately, this methodical display wouldn’t be replicated until it was almost too late.
The ability of LSU’s guards to create their own shots proved problematic for the Commodore defense, especially when they started going in. The athleticism was key in getting rebounds and avoiding turnovers as the Tigers fought off the Vandy comeback.
There was much to cheer about for the pink-speckled crowd at Memorial Gym tonight. Vandy found success breaking LSU’s press, forcing the Tigers to drop into their half-court 2-3 zone for all of the second half.
Senior center Marqu’es Webb and her team-high 20 points proved key to dissecting LSU’s zone. When not brawling with LSU’s Alexis Hyder down low, she popped high to screen on-ball, opening pockets of space to be exploited. Webb simply outsmarted Hyder in the paint, creating angles to the rim and finishing with power.
Gifted freshman guard and Tennessee native LeaLea Carter stepped onto the court late in the first half and immediately became Vanderbilt’s most explosive player (see: hard drive baseline and cross-court kick to assist on a three-pointer). Her play proved vital to the win, which included a block on the final possession to maintain Vandy’s two-point lead as Webb corralled the game-sealing rebound.
Around the same time, though, LSU found its groove. Its speed advantage started to show after every change in possession — LSU had 12 fast break points and VU had none — and even the mid-range jumpers started falling. For most of the second half, LSU maintained a comfortable lead.
But the Commodores wouldn’t quit. Vanderbilt got fantastic looks throughout the second half and shot four-of-seven from three. Eventually, the points came.
Coach Stephanie White liked the way her team attacked the LSU zone.
“We did a pretty good job of getting them to shift and getting ourselves high-percentage shots,” White said.
White went on to compliment her team’s perseverance, expressing how she was “proud of the heart we showed down the stretch… Our seniors are so good at keeping our team focused and keeping them poised.”
That senior leadership was both visible and audible in the second half. Senior guard Minta Spears (seven assists) was directing traffic on offense like a vest-wearing officer, barking orders to organize the zone offense and attack it properly.
The win moves the Commodores to just 2-10 in SEC play but ends a three game skid. They’ll be happy they earned a win tonight, because a trip to No. 6 ranked South Carolina on Thursday will be the Vanderbilt’s toughest test yet. Tune into the SEC Network at 6 p.m. CT to catch the action.